Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pasta with Cauliflower & Toasty Breadcrumb Topping

*Tap* *Tap*
Anyone still out there? Sorry...Truce?

I was watching Lidia's Italy this rainy Sunday afternoon while she made a fabulous looking pasta. It was rustic and delicious looking, and possibly loaded with carbs, so I thought: I'm making this for dinner.
I'm making this for dinner so hard.
And yes, I ate the hell out of this.

Pasta with Cauliflower & Toasty Breadcrumb topping

1 head of Cauliflower (chopped into florets)
1 box Pasta (Campanelle, Gemelli, whatever really)
1.5 cups Fresh breadcrumbs
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
Olive Oil (good quality, it's the foundation of your sauce)
Hot pepper flakes
Sliced almonds, toasted
Parsley to finish

See? A short and simple list for a deceptively good meal. And toasted almonds? Yes toasted almonds- trust Lidia on this one.
I found these Campanelle in the market today, and they looked perfect for this
Like tiny little trumpets.

But practically any pasta will do!

First, set a large pot of water, generously salted, to boil.
Take your head of cauliflower:

and reduce it to florets that are roughly even:

Toss these into your boiling water. Now, you can cook the cauliflower and pasta together in the same pot, but if you do, give the cauliflower a 5 minute or so head start. All in all this should take roughly 11-15 minutes (15 if you started with the cauliflower).
For the breadcrumbs, you are going to use actual bread, you got that? None of that pre-made junk here. Day old bread, or if you're like me, incredibly and stupidly fresh bread (it's fine here, since you'll be toasting it anyhow)
Now, Lidia grated a heel of bread on her box grater because she is hardcore. I went for two swipes on my box grater and went: No. No, I want this pasta tonight, not next week.
I am not as hardcore as Lidia, but never fear! That's what a Cuisinart is for:

Take that!
Mission accomplished, you can now toast your sliced almonds in a dry non-stick pan. Watch these closely! If you can smell them, it may already be too late:
Like a hawk....

Once they are slightly(!) browned, set them aside, it's time to make the sauce.
In a deep sauce pan, place your 4 cloves of sliced garlic in a substantial amount of olive oil. This is the foundation of your sauce, so when I say substantial, think about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of oil (almost a finger) turn it to medium flame and stay with it, you want to lightly toast the garlic.
Add hot pepper flakes to your taste.

Before the garlic gets too much color, add your breadcrumbs, salt to taste, and let it get all nice and toasty.

Can you feel it yet? That inevitable food coma, that cozy, rainy Sunday feeling?
Move the topping to large bowl and add your pasta and cauliflower combo, as well as the toasted almonds. If the mixture looks to dry, add a splash of olive oil. Add chopped parsley and toss to combine.

Get the warm fuzzies like crazy and dig in!

For dessert, check out our new shop: Hungryface!